Carter urges Obama to recognise Palestinian state

Carter urges Obama to recognise Palestinian state
The former US president who brokered Arab-Israeli peace says time is running out for the current administration to ensure that the US recognises a Palestinian state before Trump takes office.
3 min read
29 November, 2016
Jimmy Carter has consistently criticised Israel for its excesses against Palestinians [Getty]
Former United States president Jimmy Carter has urged President Barack Obama to recognise a Palestinian state before Donald Trump takes office in January.

Carter, who brokered peace between Egypt and Israel at Camp David in the late seventies, made the plea in an op-ed published by the New York Times Monday.

"I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short," Carter wrote.

"The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on January 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership."

At present, the US government under Obama is in favour of a two-state solution, however there are many, including Israeli ministers, who believe that Donald Trump will steer the US much further into line with Israeli ambitions.

Trump has already controversially pledged to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, while also calling for the continued building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

Carter has long held that continued Israeli settlement construction has been a major obstacle to peace and has accused Israel of being an "apartheid state".

In his 2006 book entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, Carter described the situation as one in which "Israelis [are] totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights".

Israel for its part rejects the notion that it should accept a Palestinian state, insisting that peace should be achieved through bilateral negotiations continue. 

Carter also called on the UN Security Council to pass a resolution delineating the parameters of the two countries, using the 1967 borders as a guideline.

"The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy," he said.

Last-ditch attempt?

With the Obama administration just weeks away from passing the reins to Trump, it is thought that the US president may make a last ditch attempt at Middle East peace in order to secure his legacy in this area of diplomacy.

So far the president has has proven ineffective in this area of diplomacy, with the US having largely stepped aside from its traditional role of mediating between the two nations since direct talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel collapsed in 2014.

While also having a poor personal relationship with Israeli leader Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama has failed curb continued Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory.

Trump's election victory on November 8 saw many far-right Israeli politicians express their joy at the decision, including education minister Naftali Bennett who declared that "the era of a Palestinian state is over". As a result of this and other statement by Israeli ministers and former politicians, PM Netanyahu was forced to ask his fellow rightwingers to suppress their gloating.

Trump's win is seen as likely leading to a far more favourable US policy toward Israel, though many analysts have cautioned that his thinking remains unclear and he has proven himself to be unpredictable.